Saturday, June 25, 2016

30% off full price products from DermStore

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
Use code JUST4U30. That brings the Anastasia Brow Wiz down to about $15, for example. They carry a lot of other brands at various price points, including Lipstick Queen, Becca, Butter London, CeraVe, Pacifica, Rouge Bunny Rouge,  Tarte, TheBalm, etc. (Some brands are excluded from promotions.) Also free shipping and returns, which is always nice!

I'm going to use the code to get my favorite facial sunscreen from Kinesys (reviewed here) for under $14, since I'm running low.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer moisture for oily or combination skin: Review of Simple Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
Review of Simple Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer

I've liked most of the skincare products from the Simple brand that I've tried so far (like the ones reviewed here). They always seem to be exactly as described. No frills, but effective. So when I wanted to find a cheaper alternative to the Paula's Choice Invisible Finish Moisture Gel (reviewed here) that I've been using for about a decade now, this Simple Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer seemed like a good place to start. I still really like the Paula's Choice stuff, but I'm pretty sure that when I started using it, it only cost $15-18 (Canadian!), and it is now a borderline outrageous $28 a tube. I'll complain about that and other reasons I've been annoyed by Paula's Choice recently in another post, but for now suffice to say that I have been hoping to find a reasonable substitute--reasonable both in performance and price. The Simple Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer fits the bill at under $10.

Gel moisturizers are wonderful if you have skin like mine: combination, leaning more toward oily than dry, and often dehydrated. My skin regularly feels tight and sort of shriveled while still being oily in places, which is a sign that it needs moisture. (For a really useful explanation of the difference between dry and dehydrated skin, check out this great post from Lab Muffin.) Especially in the summer, traditional lotion or cream moisturizers will feel too heavy and leave my skin greasy as the day progresses. A gel feels lighter and often leaves a more matte finish.

In the winter, however, and as I've got older, my skin has become drier, and I find that lotions are just fine. So when I first tested out this Simple gel moisturizer back in December, I wasn't impressed. Here are the notes I jotted down: "spreads easy, doesn't sting near eyes, very little actual moisturizing--doesn't seem to sink in and hydrate, just smooths a little, skin feels a little tight." So I stuck it back on the shelf and ignored it for several months.

A couple of weeks ago my face started to transition into its usual summer oil slick, and my winter lotion felt too heavy, so I pulled the Simple gel back out. Suddenly it's perfect. Just enough moisture without any greasiness. It's exactly what I need right now. Another thing that is really nice about gel products in the summer is that they feel amazingly refreshing on my skin. Almost like splashing my face with water.

Here's what the Simple gel itself looks like (right), compared to the Paula's Choice gel moisturizer (left). While most gel moisturizers I've tried are translucent like the PC version, the Simple moisturizer is transparent, like hair gel (but not sticky!).

Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel (left) and Simple Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer (right)
Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Moisture Gel (left) and Simple Ultra-Light Gel Moisturizer (right)
This isn't what I would call a "dupe" for the Paula's Choice moisturizer. The two main things they have in common are the gel formula and the lack of fragrance, which I appreciate. The Paula's Choice moisturizer has a little more slip when you spread it, and it soaks in to create a smooth, matte finish quickly. The Simple moisturizer is just a little tackier. On the other hand, I have to be careful not to apply the Paula's Choice gel too close to my eyes, because it will sting, and I've had no problems like that with the Simple gel. That's a definite advantage.

The Paula's Choice moisturizer has some fancier ingredients like niacinamide,  sodium hyaluronate, and a bunch of antioxidants. The Simple moisturizer does have vitamin E and glycerin, but it's sort of a step down in that sense. Personally, that doesn't bother me too much, because I use other products with more advanced shit in them, and I mainly want my moisturizer to just moisturize. But if you want to limit the number of products you use or buy, maybe a more sophisticated moisturizer is your style.

I also like the packaging of the Simple Ultra-Light Gel, which is a pump bottle. Like this:

Most of the other gel moisturizers I've tried, like the ones from Marcelle and Laneige, come in jars, which I assume is to show off their pretty, translucent texture. I just don't like jars for this type of product. Sure, my hands are clean when I use it, and the preservatives are going to keep it fairly stable, but why not have have as airtight and protected a container as possible? I do actually prefer the Paula's Choice tube, though--it's easier to tell how much product is left, and you can even cut it open to scoop out the last traces if you want to.

If you have skin like mine--not dry, but prone to dehydration--I definitely recommend this moisturizer. I'm extremely happy with it. I just needed to use it during the right season to appreciate it! It's effective, and it feels really fucking nice soaking into my skin on a hot summer day. And it's very affordable. The cheapest I've seen it is on Amazon for $5.56 for 1.5 oz. (i.e. $3.77 per oz. compared to Paula's Choice's $14 per ounce).

Do you find that your skin's behavior also changes pretty dramatically with the seasons, to the point that you have to change products? Any suggestions for keeping the oil at bay would be very welcome!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Select MAC lipsticks 30% off ($11.90) from Nordstrom

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
I don't think I've heard of any of the MAC shades that are on sale, have you? Any of them good? It's a decent price (30% off), and you can also add 3 free samples at this link (La Mer, MAC, Dior, etc.). Plus you can get 6% cash back from Ebates, and Nordstrom always has free shipping and free returns, so overall, pretty enticing.

I would really like to post something more substantial than all these sale notices, but it seems like I only have 5 minutes at the time to blog lately. Maybe tomorrow. I HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO TELL YOU ABOUT MOISTURIZER.

ETA: Poppy alerted me to the fact that the lipstick isn't the only MAC thing that's 30%. Scroll around!

Friday, June 17, 2016

6 months free delivery + $30 credit from Ulta, Whole Foods, Costco, Walgreens, and a bunch of other stores with $8 voucher

Disclosure: Referral link.
This is a Living Social deal for a 6 month membership in Google Express for $10 + a $30 credit to use on your first order. You can read all the details, including whether it's available in your area and what stores participate, on the site, but you get free, overnight delivery with a minimum purchase. The minimum for Ulta is $15, which is significantly lower than what you would need to get free shipping directly from them (i.e. $50). You can cancel at any time. Use code LOVELOCAL to get 20% off and bring it down to $8.

I've been trying to write a post about good summer moisturizers for dehydrated but oily skin for a few days now. But first I have to clean my whole house, because (surprise!) my mother-in-law is coming for a short visit this afternoon. Joy.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Choix subscription now $15 a month

Disclosure: Referral links.
$15 a month is a definite improvement over $20. You can cancel any time, apparently, so you don't have to be locked in for a whole year. You can read my review of the service here. I just got my second box, and I'll review it soon.

By the way, it's not clear to me if this company is called "Choix" or "So Choix." There doesn't seem to be any consistency in their media. Weird.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Birchbox has changed their points system

I'm guessing they weren't making much money in the shop, because people were only/mostly buying things with points. Here are the changes they've made (from an email sent to subscribers, which I've now read about in multiple places):
  • You will no longer get 10 points per sample from your box when you review them. You will get 50 points for the first 5 samples you review, and that's it. Ever. There has been some confusion as to whether this meant 50 points per box, but here is a recent comment that the Birchbox rep made on their own Facebook post: "You’ll receive 10 points for the first 5 reviews you leave on or after July 11th. After you’ve left 5 reviews, you will no longer earn points for your sample reviews throughout your subscription. New subscribers will receive 10 points for the first 5 reviews they leave in their subscription. Please feel free to shoot us a private message and we'd love to chat! xx"
  • All points now expire in 6 months, instead of a year.
  • But you can now redeem your points in increments of ten, instead of 100.
  • You still get 1 point for every $1 spent in the store.
I think this is going to tank Birchbox, which has been showing signs of struggling lately. The generous points system was one of the only things they had going for them during the last year or so, and it sounds like a lot of people aren't going to stick around now. Without it, they are just sending people a bunch of hotel toiletries and running a website that barely loads and a store without competitive pricing where everything is out of stock. I don't see much incentive to buy from Birchbox rather than Sephora or Ulta or Amazon.

Or maybe the store was a failed experiment and they are going to phase it out entirely and stick to the subscription service. [ETA: Apparently not--in fact, they are trying to expand their retail business.]

What do you think?

(Their Twitter is pretty funny now. Just a constant stream of, "Sorry to hear that! Keep in mind you still earn points from purchases!" Ha.)

Lipstick Queen is on HauteLook (40-50% off)

Disclosure: Referral links.
I know I've been posting about HauteLook a lot lately, but they've had some good stuff. It seems like they will go weeks or months with mostly generic crap, and then have a bunch of interesting brands all at once. (OCC is still on the site if you what to go for that too.) Anyway, Lipstick Queen this week. I've only tried Jean Queen and didn't like it, but somehow I am still intrigued, because so many people seem to like their products. Any recommendations from this sale? I will skip the gimmicky color-changing crap, but it's not included in the sale anyway.

(Actually the annoying thing about this sale is that they have all kinds of things included in the promo/header photo that are not actually available in the sale.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Swatches and review of Makeup Geek eyeshadows: Fairytale, Time Travel, Typhoon, and Ritzy

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
Makeup Geek mattes and duochromes Fairytale, Time Travel, Typhoon, and Ritzy
Top to bottom: Makeup Geek Fairytale, Time Travel, Typhoon, and Ritzy
I originally ordered these four shadows from Makeup Geek after looking for a dupe for the terrible Maybelline Color Tattoo in Vintage Plum (reviewed here). From swatches I found online, Mac's Dove Feather looked similar, but it's been discontinued. But Makeup Geek's Fairytale is apparently a dupe for Dove Feather, and I couldn't order just one and holy shit duochromes and here we are. I bought individual pans of four shades ($6 each + $2 shipping): Ritzy, Typhoon, Fairytale, and Time Travel, which came in little cardboard sleeves, and I eventually put them all into this magnetic palette I picked up with my Choix points. I ordered the eyeshadow on March 18, got a shipping notice March 24, and the package was delivered March 28--just to give you an idea of how long things took, since indie cosmetics can be slow. Not bad at all. (I know that there has been some drama involving Makeup Geek, as there tends to be with all personality-driven makeup brands. You can google if you are so inclined. So far as I can tell, there have been no instances of hate speech, so I'm going to stick to reviewing the products themselves here.)

I'm going to show arm swatches of all four shadows, as well as photos of how they look on my eyelids. I swatched them on my arm with a good brush and without primer. The photos of the eyeshadows on my eyelid are over primer, because I have such oily lids that I never wear eyeshadow without primer. For each shade, I packed it on to my lid with a brush and then blended it up and out, into the crease and above. This is not necessarily how I would normally wear all of these shades, but it provides a consistent comparison. I also used a highlight shade on my browbone.

(I'll give you a cut here so you don't have to load a bunch of giant photos of my eyeballs if you don't want to.)
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